F1 2016: Russian Grand Prix Preview

Nico Rosberg is currently in control of the 2016 a Formula One World Championship. With three wins from three he currently has a 36 point lead over team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Following the Chinese Grand Prix Formula One has travelled to Russia for the third running of the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom. Both of the previous races here have been won by Hamilton but can he get his season back on track with a third victory this weekend?

Circuit: Sochi Autodrom
Number of Laps: 53
Circuit Length: 5.848km
Number of Corners: 18
Lap Record: 1:40.071 Sebastian Vettel (2015)
Previous Russian Grand Prix winners still on the grid: 1
Most Successful Team: Mercedes (2 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Super Soft

The Sochi Autodrom features a mixture of long straights and technical corners. The track is quite wide and features low kerbs, allowing drivers to attack into corners. With a lot of the lap spent at full throttle it is a race with high fuel consumption and is also tough on brakes. It features the longest run down to Turn 1, allowing plenty of opportunity for overtaking especially on the first few laps.

Rosberg comes to Russia on the back of a six race winning streak and his confidence will no doubt he soaring. On the other side of the garage Hamilton suffered disappointment in China when he had to start from the back following a gearbox change and engine problems. He fought back to finish seventh – taking some crucial points. Ferrari – who have looked closest to challenging Mercedes so far – had more woes in China when their drivers collided on the first lap. Both cars finished the race, with Sebastian Vettel in third, but the team will have to get on top of the issues that have hampered them so far. These issues include wrong strategy calls.

Elsewhere local boy Daniil Kvyat comes to his home race off the back of a podium finish. Red Bull have looked strong in the opening three races of the season, compounded by a third and fourth last time out. For both Force India drivers it is 100th race entry in Formula One. Sauber, Manor and Renault are still searching for their first points of the year with McLaren hoping to improve on their one point so far courtesy of Stoffel Vandoorne.

 

Nico Rosberg avoids drama to be victorious in China

Nico Rosberg has won the third race of the season.

The Mercedes driver – who now has a 36 point lead over nearest rival, and team-mate, Lewis Hamilton – kept out of trouble while those around him tripped over each other. He started on pole position and initially lost the lead to Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo picked up a puncture early on and dropped down the order but fought back to finish in fourth place behind Sebastian Vettel and Daniil Kvyat. At the start of the race there was contact between the Ferrari pairing of Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel. The latter was clearly aggrieved about the incident, putting the blame on Kvyat who he felt was a “torpedo” into the first corner.

The move caused Vettel to turn to the left, pitching Raikkonen into a semi spin and causing the Finn to get significant front wing damage. He had to pit for a new nose while Vettel dropped down the order. The contact had a knock on effect as further down the pack Felipe Nasr swerved to avoid getting collected which in turn caused him to make contact with Hamilton, who lost his front wing. Hamilton had started at the back of the grid after suffering engine problems in qualifying and taking a five place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

After the chaos of the first few laps the safety car was deployed to enable the marshals to pick up the debris strewn across the track. It was a day of recovery as those involved in the drama had to change their strategies to fight back through the order. Raikkonen recovered to fifth place while Hamilton finished in seventh although just ahead of Max Verstappen. The Toro Rosso driver changed his tyres late in the race to the Super Soft but ran out of laps to catch and pass the Mercedes driver who was on older tyres.

Elsewhere both Williams drivers finished inside the points – Felipe  Massa sixth and Valtteri Bottas tenth – with Carlos Sainz in ninth.

All 22 drivers saw the chequered flag with Sergio Perez first of those outside the points. Behind him came Fernando Alonso, – who had ran as far up the order as third after the safety car – and Jenson Button. Esteban Gutierrez took his first finish of the year in 14th with Nico Hulkenberg 15th and Marcus Ericsson 16th. Kevin Magnussen finished in 17th with Pascal Wehrlein 18th and Romain Grosjean a disappointing 19th. Felipe Nasr, Rio Haryanto and Jolyon Palmer rounded out the last few places.

The next race is the Russian Grand Prix in a fortnight’s time.

F1 2016: Chinese Grand Prix – Qualifying Times & Laps

Qualifying

Reverted to 2015 system – 6 drivers eliminated in Q1, 7 eliminated in Q2, and 10 drivers in pole position shoot-out.

Times

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 1:35.402
  2. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 1:35.917
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 1:35.972
  4. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 1:36.246
  5. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 1:36.296
  6. Daniil  Kvyat – Red  Bull – 1:36.399
  7. Sergio Perez – Force India – 1:36.865
  8. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 1:36.881
  9. Max Verstappen – Toro Rosso – 1:37.194
  10. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 1:37.333
  11. Felipe Massa – Williams – 1:37.347
  12. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 1:38.826
  13. Jenson Button – McLaren – 1:39.093
  14. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 1:39.830
  15. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 1:40.742
  16. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 1:42.430
  17. Kevin Magnussen – 1:38.673
  18. Esteban Gutierrez – 1:38.770
  19. Jolyon Palmer – 1:39.528
  20. Rio Haryanto – 1:40.264
  21. Pascal Wehrlein – No Time Set
  22. Lewis Hamilton – No Time Set

Laps

  1. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes – 16
  2. Sergio Perez – Force India – 15
  3. Carlos Sainz – Toro Rosso – 15
  4. Max Verstappen – Toro Rosso – 15
  5. Daniil Kvyat – Red Bull – 14
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull – 13
  7. Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari – 13
  8. Valtteri Bottas – Williams – 13
  9. Romain Grosjean – Haas – 13
  10. Fernando Alonso – McLaren – 11
  11. Jenson Button – McLaren – 11
  12. Marcus Ericsson – Sauber – 11
  13. Felipe Nasr – Sauber – 11
  14. Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari – 10
  15. Nico Hulkenberg – Force India – 10
  16. Felipe Massa – Williams – 9
  17. Kevin Magnussen  – Renault – 9
  18. Esteban Gutierrez – Haas – 9
  19. Jolyon Palmer – Renault – 9
  20. Rio Haryanto – Manor – 9
  21. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes – 3
  22. Pascal Wehrlein – Manor – 2

Lewis Hamilton to take 5 place grid drop

Lewis Hamilton will take a 5 place grid penalty this weekend due to a gearbox change.

The team discovered issues with his gearbox following the Bahrain Grand Prix, however, they do not believe it had anything to do with his turn one contact with Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes have chosen to take the hit of a penalty now rather than risk a failure in the race. The Shanghai International Circuit offers ample opportunities for overtaking particularly with its two long straights. Hamilton’s penalty will mean he will start the Chinese Grand Prix sixth at best.

Hamilton has started the last two races from pole position but both have been won by his team-mate. This means Nico Rosberg currently has a 17 point lead.

F1 2016: Chinese Grand Prix Preview

Nico Rosberg is currently Formula One’s form man. On a five race winning streak, carrying over from the end of 2015, he will be looking to add another win to his tally at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The recurring theme at the first two races of the season has been Mercedes not getting away as well as their rivals when the lights go out. Both Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton lost out to the Ferrari duo in Australia while Hamilton picked up damage to his car after a poor start last time out.

Ferrari has demonstrated that it is a team with the capability of beating Mercedes this year, however reliability issues are hampering their chances. Kimi Raikkonen retired in Australia while Sebastian Vettel’s car expired on the warm up lap in Bahrain. There have been podiums for both drivers, however, in the opening two races – third for Vettel in Australia and second for Raikkonen last time out.

Now all eyes turn to China for the third race of the year. Big news ahead of the weekend is the fact that qualifying will return to the 2015 format.

Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit
Number of Laps: 56
Circuit Length: 5.451km
Number of Corners: 16
Lap Record: 1:32.239 Michael Schumacher (2004)
Previous China winners still on the grid: 6
Most Successful Team: Ferrari (4 wins)
DRS Zones: 2
Pirelli Tyres: Medium, Soft and Supersoft

A feature on the Formula One calendar since 2004, the Shanghai International Circuit features a mix of two long straights punctuated by a mixture of slow, medium and high speed corners.

Tyres can play a big issue in the races with wear particularly high. With Pirelli’s new rule of bringing three compounds to each race it is inevitable that there will be a range of strategies throughout the race. This has already been showcased in the first two races and it is a rule praised by many.

The most successful driver at the circuit is Lewis Hamilton who has won the race four time, including in 2014 and 2015. The reigning world champion has been overshadowed by his team-mate in the races so far but has dominated in the qualifying. He will be looking for his first victory of the year and at a circuit he has obviously enjoyed considerable success but also disappointment.

Ferrari have also won the race four times including in 2007 when Kimi Raikkonen won the race in his championship year. They will be hoping to get both cars across the line this year after disappointment in the first two races of the season. Red Bull currently lie third in the championship and they enjoyed a solid finish in Bahrain, led by Daniel Ricciardo in fourth.

Another talking point of the first two races has been the success of Haas. Romain Grosjean has finished in sixth and fifth so far and his consistency so far sees the new team lie fifth in the championship.

Fernando Alonso is still a question mark for the race after being forced to sit out Bahrain. Stoffel Vandoorne picked up points on his debut and Jenson Button felt he was on for solid points before retiring early in the race. Renault, Sauber and Manor are looking for their first points of the year while Williams will be hoping to stay out of trouble. Valtteri Bottas picked up a penalty in Bahrain for his role in Hamilton’s turn one contact. Force India have had a quiet start to the year while Toro Rosso have seen mixed fortunes.

F1 2016: Chinese Grand Prix Tyre Choices

Driver tyre choices for the Chinese Grand Prix have been revealed.

DRIVER Medium Soft Supersoft
Lewis Hamilton 4 4 5
Nico Rosberg 3 5 5
Sebastian Vettel 3 4 6
Kimi Raikkonen 3 4 6
Valtteri Bottas 2 4 7
Felipe Massa 1 5 7
Daniel Ricciardo 2 5 6
Daniil Kvyat 2 5 6
Kevin Magnussen 2 5 6
Jolyon Palmer 3 4 6
Nico Hulkenberg 2 5 6
Sergio Perez 2 5 6
Max Verstappen 3 5 5
Carlos Sainz 2 6 5
Fernando Alonso 2 4 7
Jenson Button 2 4 7
Marcus Ericsson 5 4 4
Felipe Nasr 5 4 4
Pascal Wehrlein 4 5 4
Rio Haryanto 4 5 4
Romain Grosjean 1 5 7
Esteban Gutierrez 2 5 7

The new three compound rule has proven to be popular so far, with teams able to deploy a wider variety of strategies through the race. Once again Mercedes and Ferrari have varied in their choices, with the Ferrari pair opting for more sets of the Supersoft compound. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have also made different decisions wit Hamilton choosing one extra set of the Medium compound.

Elsewhere the Williams, Renault, Toro Rosso, and Haas team-mates have decided to differ from each other. The remaining teams – Red Bull, McLaren, Manor, Force India and Sauber – have all seen their drivers pick the same as their team-mates.

Nico Rosberg extends championship lead in Bahrain

Nico Rosberg currently sits 17 points clear of team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the top of the championship.

This lead is thanks to picking up maximum points at the first two rounds of the season. Following a 1-2 for Mercedes in Australia, Rosberg stood on the top step again in Bahrain although this time he finished ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton started the race from pole but it was a fast starting Rosberg who led by the first corner. As Hamilton swept across the track after realising he had lost his lead, there was contact with Valtteri Bottas – something the stewards felt warranted a drive through penalty for the Finn. This led to damage on his car which was something he had to contend with for the duration of the race.

While Rosberg romped away at the front, Hamilton once again found himself having to fight back from about fifth or sixth, something he had already endured in Australia due to a poor start.

Ferrari’s leading – and only – contender in this race was Kimi Raikkonen, a driver who has excelled in Bahrain in the past picking up seven podiums. Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make the race start when he suffered an engine failure on the formation lap. Raikkonen drove a good race and finished in second place, undoubtedly particularly welcome following a retirement in the opening race of the year.

Following the top three Daniel Ricciardo came home in fourth place in front of Haas driver Romain Grosjean, the latter picking up another solid points haul for the new team. It was once again a bittersweet event for Haas as their other driver Esteban Gutierrez retired, this time with a brake issue. Max Verstappen finished sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Daniil Kvyat in seventh, Felipe Massa in eighth and a recovering Bottas in ninth.

Rounding out the top ten finishers was late McLaren call-up Stoffel Vandoorne. Following the news that Fernando Alonso had been declared unfit to race by the FIA, McLaren’s test and reserve driver was rushed to the track to stand in for him. With Alonso watching his every move from the pitwall and offering guidance, Vandoorne raced to tenth place. It was a point on his debut and McLaren’s first points finish of the year.

Jenson Button was frustrated to pull off at the side of the track with a power problem, later suggesting he could have been on for a top five or six finish had he not retired. He joined Vettel on the sidelines along with Gutierrez and Jolyon Palmer, who also did not start. Carlos Sainz was the fifth retirement having picked up a puncture during the race and retiring a few laps later.

Outside of the top ten, Kevin Magnussen recovered from a pit-lane start to finish 11th, ahead of Marcus Ericsson and an impressive Pascal Wehrlein. After qualifying 16th, the Manor driver put in a strong performance in the race to finish 13th, having ran in the points. Felipe Nasr was 14th for Sauber ahead of the two Force Indias and Rio Haryanto.